Pencils are my downfall

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by AbbyR, Jul 28, 2013.

  1. AbbyR

    AbbyR Rookie

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    Jul 28, 2013

    I have done a search, and would like some help with my ongoing problem with pencils. I let my kids sharpen two pencils at the first of the class, then not again. It never, ever works. Either they don't have pencils, they constantly break them, they need new pencils several times during every activity - you get the idea. When I started keeping a pencil can for trading in broken pencils, invariably they would trade a tiny, totally used up pencil for one of my longer ones. I am getting tired of spending my hard-earned money on pencils. I order 500-600 pencils every year with my supply money, and I still can't keep up with the demand for "I don't have a pencil," or "My pencil broke." (I teach two language arts groups per day, a half day each.)

    What procedures do you use for sharpening and replacing pencils? I've been teaching for YEARS and I still can't come up with anything that works consistently.

    Thanks!
    Abby
     
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  3. Pencil Monkey

    Pencil Monkey Devotee

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    Jul 28, 2013

    I've been in your position and I can totally relate. What finally worked for me: I stopped giving out pencils. I got really tired of spending MY hard earned money on pencils. While my own children needed things as well. So I quit. When a kid tells me they have a pencil problem I say "Oh, that is too bad. I'm sure you can find a way to solve it." If they persist, I tell them to ask a friend or use a hand sharpener. The big hand crank or electric sharpeners are off limits during non-transition times. They are available at arrival, dismissal, after lunch, etc. I have a little basket with two or three of them by the trash can. If you are consistent, the class will become more responsible with their pencils over time. At the end of the day I gather up all the pencils that are on the floor and put them in a little cup. I show the class the cup of pencils and tell them when they loose a pencil it goes in the cup. The cup is where they can find a pencil if they don't have one. When it is empty, that is it. There are no more. Eventually, they will catch on that you are not giving away pencils and will bring their own. But it takes time, especially if you have been giving away pencils and they have come to expect it.

    Occasionally, I have one or two students that just can not remember a pencil or that always have a problem. I send their parents an email or note and ask them to send in a few packs of pencils. The student sharpens all of them. Then, I give the student a zip lock baggie with their name on it and I store it in my teacher cabinet. They get one at a time.

    If you don't think this is an option I saw on teachers pay teacher a system that I thought was neat here.
     
  4. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Jul 28, 2013

    This is what I do with my grade 1s as well. Once a week we go through all of our supplies and I make sure everyone is stocked up for the week. All of their extra supplies are kept in individually labeled Ziploc bags and I hand out pencils as they need them. But if we are in the middle of a lesson or activity I say exactly what Pencil Monkey says.
     
  5. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Jul 28, 2013

    I buy golf pencils in bulk and students use those. They have erasers and were less than a penny each. I spent $30 on them three years ago and have used less than a third of what I bought.
     
  6. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Jul 28, 2013

    This is not a long-term solution, more like an awareness project :) I tried it the last few weeks of school. Not only was it fun, but I was amazed at how many pencils I DIDN'T go through!! I wrote their number on the board and kids crossed off their number as they dropped out. On the 5th day, I gave each kid who could show me their pencil a Starburst.

    I plan to start the year with it, then probably wean them off of the game.

    http://www.ladybugsteacherfiles.com/2013/04/the-great-pencil-challenge-managing.html
     
  7. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Jul 28, 2013

    Yeah I really wouldn't recommend that for an elementary school class.
     
  8. Bella2010

    Bella2010 Habitué

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    Jul 28, 2013

    I feel your pain! Last year's group was HORRIBLE with pencils. I'm trying something different this year. I bought one of these http://www.reallygoodstuff.com/self-adhesive-pencil-clips/p/159224/for each desk. There will be a pencil in it at the start of the day and at the start of my second group. Now, keep in mind, kids SHOULD already have a pencil. They all start out the quarter with a package of pencils, get another the second quarter, etc. However, if they DON'T have a pencil, there's one to use on their desk. I don't have to hear how they don't have a pencil, left it in their locker (usually the case), can't find it, etc. In order to leave at the end of class, there has to be a pencil in the class. If there isn't, they have to get one from their locker to replace it.
     
  9. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Jul 28, 2013

    I stopped using pencils, except for scantron tests. My students only use ink pens for their work now. I haven't had to sharpen a pencil for a few years.
     
  10. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Jul 28, 2013

    How do you handle teaching math with a pen?
     
  11. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    We use pens.

    Mistakes should be crossed out not erased. I want students to be able to see their work, seeing their mistakes can often help them find the right path or become a focal point for a class discussion (even if they have corrected the mistake).
     
  12. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Jul 28, 2013

    I ordered a box of 144 misprinted pencils. These are pencils that are sold for a deep discount because they have some sort of error printed on them. The box was either $6 or $7.

    When I received the box, I received 144 hunter green pencils. They appeared to be pencils created for some sort of company in Florida. The mistake is in the company's email address. It says "infro" instead of "info". All of the pencils were already sharpened (however, in talk to other people, this is not always the case when you buy the misprinted pencils).

    I haven't had a chance to sharpen one to test its durability (I don't have a pencil sharpener at home...is that weird?) but they seem pretty nice. It's something to investigate if you really don't want to fight the pencil battle (which I hate).
     
  13. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Where did you buy these at?
     
  14. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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  15. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Jul 28, 2013

    First, I teach a self-contained class, so I have the same kids all day, half of whom bring zero supplies. I have two "buckets." One is labeled "Sharpened Pencils" and the other is "To Be Sharpened." All pencils (other than the "fancy" ones I give out and mark with each student's number - those are "personal pencils) are communal. I sharpen pencils each evening before leaving school. Students grab 2 sharp pencils as they enter class each morning (they are not allowed to keep "class" pencils overnight). As their pencils become worn or broken, they simply swap them for sharp ones. If a student breaks a lot of pencils, then they use the little golf pencils without erasers. I have the big pink erasers anyway (for some reason, lots of our kids chew the erasers on the pencils!), and I cut them in half so they last longer. I hope this makes sense - it works for me!
     
  16. MsB2012

    MsB2012 Companion

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    Jul 28, 2013

    I have two ELA classes (each class half the day) like the OP. I didn't have any pencil problems because of the routine I put in place. The first day I collected all packs of pencils (kids don't need 24 pencils floating around in their desk) and I sharpened about 35-40 pencils each morning. As students came in each day, I had a cup in my hand and they took a pencil. When we switched classes the second half of the day, their ticket out of my room was putting the pencil back in my cup on the way out to their math/science class. I repeated this process with my second class, and it worked great for both. They switched pencils throughout class in the cup if theirs broke--but they were not allowed to leave the room until a pencil was in my cup. I had a few heartbroken kids who dug out one of their own fancy pencils because they said they just couldn't find the pencil they'd been given as they came in! :D Most times when these kiddos say they don't know where their pencil is, it's on the floor (they're just being lazy about looking for it)! :rolleyes:
     
  17. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Jul 28, 2013

    I do this too! Mine don't have erasers though. The kids HATE them and complain when they have to use them. I just shrug and tell them to bring their own pencils next time. It wastes no class time because I just keep a few in my pocket and when they need it I just pull it out and they get straight back to work.
     
  18. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Jul 28, 2013

    I teach three classes. I have a pencil bucket for each table. In the morning the Payload Specialist is responsible for making sure there are 8 - 10 sharpened pencils in their groups bucket. I have a handheld sharpener at each table for emergencies, but they don't often use it.
     
  19. Sm2teach

    Sm2teach Companion

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    I think I will try this.:thanks: Last year was my first year to switch classes and my worst year for pencils. We ran out by March. I thought by keeping pencils on their desks to use, they wouldn't hoard them. Wrong. I don't know what happened to them. I think maybe they got in trouble in their other class if they didn't have a pencil so they took mine.:confused:
     
  20. MsB2012

    MsB2012 Companion

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    I have no doubt that's what happened! Third graders can be sneaky little munchkins! I had some that tried to smuggle my extra sharpened pencils from the pencil cup to take to their other class because she wouldn't give them a pencil at all if they didn't have one. They just had to "figure it out". I fixed that right quick by putting the cup where it could be more closely monitored at my desk and students had to ask to get another pencil (they knew they couldn't touch anything on my desk without permission).

    I guess overall, pencils are just not a battle I want to fight. I have bigger fish to fry than to make a student feel like crap or helpless because they can't find a pencil. :D And truly, pencils aren't THAT expensive IMO.
     
  21. London

    London Rookie

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    Jul 29, 2013

    Thanks for the link. I just ordered some. Cheaper than the Dixon pencils that go on sale at wal-mart and they are already sharpened. There's also a promo code "jul13" for 20% off.
     
  22. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Jul 29, 2013

    Our kids bring their own pencils. I give them two on the first day and they have to be responsible with them. At the beginning of each month I give each student another pencil (sometimes two). If they abslutely can´t find a pencil, I tell them to ask a neighbor. I really try to get them to be repsonsible as much as they can, but pencils do always seem to be an issue.
     
  23. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I've been collecting pencils for years, mostly from the penny sales every summer. I bet I had 500+ pencils at the start of the year last year. Anyway, last year I started purging a lot of my excess school supplies because I moved to a new classroom and didn't have the storage space any longer. I started setting out a little basket of pencils, maybe 20 or so, and refilling it whenever it got low/empty. I worked through my entire supply of pencils. What I discovered was that it was the same students, over and over and over again, who needed to use my pencils. They didn't seem to be intentionally them or intentionally misplacing them or anything. They just couldn't keep track of their pencils or didn't care to. I always told students that they should take the pencil with them because they would need it in their other classes. The problem is that presumably by the end of the day, they would lose that pencil. Then the next day they'd just come in for another one. While I don't mind sharing my personal supplies with students in need, I really hated what ended up happening. I felt like my generosity was being abused. I'm not going to be doing any sharing of my supplies in the future, which is really my only option since they plowed through everything I had last year. They can find a way to find their own writing utensils.
     
  24. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Another tip that has helped me is making a deal with the custodian. Our custodian sweeps up all of the leftover pencils in the hallway after school each day and gives them to me. Could be worth a shot if you have friendly support staff :)
     
  25. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    This is a tough issue. I work in a high poverty area. Any student who does not bring in a pencil can use one of my crayons or buy a pencil for 10 cents.

    Children dislike writing with crayons. Most of the children will either buy a pencil or borrow one from a friend. It works, and I don't have the headaches that other teachers have from this issue.
     
  26. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    Jul 30, 2013

    I keep a box of beautiful new sharpened pencils on hand. When a student needs one, I trade one of my fabulous pencils with a student who never asks me for a pencil. I give their used pencil to the needy student. I think it's a waste of time to try to teach natural consequences to kids who's learning may be impacted by the lack of a pencil.

    I also give out pencils as presents and prizes.
     
  27. Pencil Monkey

    Pencil Monkey Devotee

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    I really like this idea.

    I have also gone to the crayon method at times. I'm not sure that is worth the trouble.
     
  28. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    That initially sounded like a good idea to me, but so many of my kids have no supplies, I would never want them to feel as if they were less than another student.
     

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